Indian Women’s League 2022-23
By Numbers

Author: Gautam Varier

Credit: AIFF

The sixth season of the Indian Women’s League came to an end on the 21st of May with Gokulam Kerala FC lifting the title yet again. It was the third year in a row that Gokulam came out on top as they became the first team to ever win a hat trick of titles. Their dominance is reaching unprecedented levels in Indian football and they deserve a ton of credit for it.

With the season now in the books, let’s have a look at some of the numbers that defined it.

Gokulam were truly a class apart, with three of the top four goalscorers among their ranks. Leading the way was Sabitra Bhandari who set the new single-season record with 29 goals, surpassing the 26 that Bala Devi scored for Manipur Police in 2018-19. Bhandari also joined Devi as the only other player to have led the league in scoring twice, having done so in 2019-20 as well.

Sabitra Bhandari

She opened the scoring in the Final too in the fifth minute, as Gokulam beat Kickstart FC 5-0 to get their hands on the title. It was the third time in the tournament that she had opened the scoring in a game, which was tied for the second-most, with only Kioko Elizabeth Katungwa from Kickstart having more, with five.

It was Bhandari who came out on top in game-winning goals with five, although Katungwa was right behind her. Kioko only scored seven goals in the season, but five of them being the first in their games and four being game-winners, shows how she tended to score when it mattered most.

There were 262 goals scored in total this season, at an average of 4.16 per game and rather interestingly, it was split evenly between both halves, with the first and second seeing 131 goals each. It should be hardly surprising that Gokulam came out on top in both, as the 64 goals they scored in total this season, were nearly double that of second-placed Sethu FC and Kickstart FC, who only managed 34.

Bhandari was responsible for 13 of those goals and it is incredible that she by herself would have been tied for fourth place in the league among teams. She also scored one of the fastest goals of the tournament, finding the back of the net in the second minute against East Bengal. Saru Limbu and Bala Devi were the two others to also strike in the second minute of the games this season.

Sethu FC certainly fared a lot better in the second half than they did in the first and they struck the latest goal of the tournament too, with Kiran Pisda scoring in the 10th minute of stoppage time at the end of the second half against Central Reserve Police Force FC. They still weren’t particularly close to Gokulam’s tally of 33 and Bhandari had 16 of them, which would have put her in the top three here.

Considering Gokulam’s dominance, it really shouldn’t be much of a surprise just how much better they were than everyone else. They only ended up failing to win one game all tournament, and that was against Misaka United in the group stage. In the knockouts, they were taken all the way to penalties by Odisha FC, but they won the shoot-out 3-0 and that was as close as anyone got to eliminating them.

Looking ahead to next season, Gokulam won’t have Bhandari among their ranks as she has left for Israeli club Hapoel Ra’anana AFC. Will that stop them though from winning a fourth-straight championship though? We’ll just have to wait and see.

Pic Credits: AIFF 

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